In legal settings, being able to make decisions, take actions and be heard shapes practical outcomes, ultimately verdicts and sentences. Meaning-making determines justice. With this in mind, I have taken up Malinowski's challenge to 'burst the bonds of mere linguistics', by incorporating LE, collecting and analysing multiplex data, even in data- constrained research sites, taking a reflexive stance on theory and a disposition which listens and observes. I have demonstrated this approach through two case studies: the first examining mitigation of face-threat alongside understanding of face by interactants to show linguistic notions re-visited; and the second demonstrating how the LE notion of 'crosstalk' can adapt to unlikely data.
At the beginning of this piece, I noted three key features of LE which make it distinctive. I now consider how these have been evidenced in this chapter. First, I noted that LE does not have an inflexible arsenal of methods or procedures. Instead, the analyst draws-in relevant data and theory and can consider social situatedness as the guiding principle when facing methodological and theoretical questions. In my first case study I showed how data collection evolved as my understanding developed driven by the data itself; naturally-occurring data triggered interest in interview data which triggered interest in seeing and experiencing contexts both physical and intertextual. The theoretical lens, face, was selected on the basis of the data too. In the second case study, crosstalk provided ways to learn from an account by recognising the value of the account in itself and working-up a conception of it as data.
The second feature I noted in an LE approach was the need to avoid compartmentalising 'language' and 'context' and instead recognising their intimate, complete connection. In the first case study, I showed how particular forms of context were informative, particularly speakers' own perspectives and the physicality of the interview room. Likewise, in the second study, context and language were not disentangled but seen as a complex which influenced Debbie's account and made it meaningful despite separation from the event reported.
Finally I noted the importance of the emic perspective in LE. I used interview data which, whilst it presents an 'insider' perspective of sorts, can seem rather blunt in relying on self-report and accounting. In both case studies, I recognised the restrictions of this but also its affordances. In some analyses, researchers enter into speculation about speakers' motives and intentions. Instead, by sensitively incorporating voices, data can layer to support observations about socially situated language use. In my first case study, I showed how viewing face as meaningful to participants made it possible to say more than by examining only its trace in naturally-occurring talk. This recognised the theoretical notion of face as embedded across forms of data. In the second case study reconceiving of the emic took the form of examining an account as a recontextualisation of an instance of crosstalk.
In conclusion, I have sought to complement linguistics using LE. Whist this chapter has provided two simple examples, LE in my wider work has enabled me to better understand the work of police officers as situated social practice. I have come to understand some ways in which lay people bring knowledge of other social settings to law. I encourage others who feel the bonds of traditional disciplinary approaches and perspectives to take up LE and, in doing so, gain new understandings of institutions.